Restaurant Review – Clay Pigeon, Fort Worth, Texas
Overall: The food is fantastic and boasts of excellent fundamentals. Pick good ingredients, combine flavors that go well together, and plate to highlight the star of the dish. I just wish the interior was a little more inviting.
Entrance and Decor
The location of Clay Pigeon is a little odd, as is the exterior. It sits on a corner, and really doesn’t look like much when you drive by it or go to enter the front door. For the most part, the inside is pretty plain. There are the standard black and brown chair and table sets, stone floors, and brick walls. There’s also a wine cellar adjacent to the main dining. All of this in itself isn’t bad, but the problem is that it doesn’t really suit the place. The cuisine doesn’t match the decor, nor does the level/quality of service. More importantly, they use giant mirrors as decoration, like above the bar. Those mirrors are pretty gaudy with their giant golden frames and don’t go well with the rest of it.
While I think the restaurant is attempting to go for a brutalist look that matches the “back to basics” feel of the cuisine, I think it falls short of the mark. Instead, what the result just feels unfinished, mismatched, and disjointed. So the place becomes a little uninviting when you first step in. Nothing that will ruin your dinner at all, but definitely something that can be improved.
Let’s get on with the food. For the appetizer, I ordered the bone marrow. Now if you haven’t ever tasted bone marrow, you need to. When done right, it’s fantastic, and this place does it right.
Everything in this dish was perfect. The marrow was roasted perfectly, the seasoning was excellent, and even the little salad on the side added a refreshing accent. You can also see that the plating is done quite thoughtfully to put the bone right in your face. Bone marrow is difficult to do properly. It can often come out bland and lacking color. But, this was spectacular.
I ordered the braised lamb shank. Now, a braised lamb shank, or really anything braised, should fall apart at the touch of your fork. It should melt upon entering your mouth and release all that sealed in umami right onto your tongue. Eating a well braised “meat on the bone” dish should be an almost sexual experience. You should be able to feel the flavors dripping down your throat before you even swallow it.
Ok…maybe that’s a bit much, but you get the point. This lamb shank did all of that to perfection.
I didn’t need the knife to separate the lamb; it was already molting off the bone, being shed like the skin of a snake. You can see the sauce pooling at the bottom, and what you can’t see is that sauce flavor imbued into the meat in equal measure. Every bite was perfect.
The only criticism I have of this dish is the olives. I don’t think they’re necessary, and the flavor doesn’t quite harmonize with everything else. They seem like an afterthought that should be rethought.
I didn’t order desert, in my efforts to remain as keto friendly as possible, so let’s skip to the final thoughts. Here’s the deal: the place isn’t too well known from what I gather, nor is it particularly inviting when you first walk in. I think their clientele probably range to an older crowd. But the food is fantastic. If they made the establishment slightly more vibrant and cohesive, I think this is an easy five stars.